The new version of the popular social media app will work on JioPhone’s KaiOS operating system and will lead to “fast and reliable messaging” and will have the “ability to send photos and videos — all end-to-end encrypted”, for JioPhone customers, the two companies in a joint statement on Monday.
Whatsapp, which has 1.5 billion people globally on its platform with India its largest user market with 200 million active monthly users, will be available on the JioPhone AppStore starting September 10, and will be rolled out on all JioPhones by September 20.
“During this movement of connecting the unconnected, many partners came forward to strengthen the cause. One such partner who has really stood by us from the beginning is Facebook and its ecosystem,” Akash Ambani, director of Reliance Jio Infocomm, said in the statement.
Jio has two sets of featurephones – Jio Phone and its upgraded version, JioPhone 2, which was launched recently. These phones are targeted at the 500 million consumers who are not on smartphones yet. The operator’s basic JioPhone sold more than 25 million in one year and both versions have other social media features like Facebook and YouTube.
Through its latest version, Whatsapp, on its part, will get a shot at onboarding millions of featurephone users and further expanding its user base.
“By designing this new app for KaiOS, we hope to expand the ability for people to communicate with anyone in India and around the world by offering the best messaging experience possible to JioPhone users,” Chris Daniels, vice president, Whatsapp, said.
In the telecom sector for Jio with its 215 million plus subscribers, these offerings will help the operator to attract more customers and catch up with Bharti Airtel, which has nearly 345 million users, and newly formed Vodafone Idea, which more than 408 million.
For Jio, the long-term plan ahead could be to monetise the featurephone through advertising and content that would get featured on the device, say experts.